Preparing for 2022

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

Friends have come to me and said that the political scene has changed dramatically. I have two comments. First, the deadline for registration as a candidate is only a few short months from now. October is just around the corner.

Those with political ambitions must now start positioning themselves and must start a campaign for name recognition. However, my cautionary warning is that there could still be a lot of political movements.

Seocnd, it seemed there were only two political groupings – the administration and the opposition. Today, there are at least four and possibly five political groups.

Philippine politics is centered on personalities. There have been attempts in the past to launch political parties based on ideology, but this has not been sustained. Here are the potential presidential candidates as of this date. Note that Philippine politics, being personality-based, can be very volatile.

There is, of course, the administration candidate – the lady mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte. In a sense, her candidacy is inevitable. Winning the election is a different matter. The last two presidents – Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Noynoy Aquno – were not able to make their anointed candidate win the presidency.

The other question about the lady mayor’s candidacy is her runningmate. The idea of her father running for vice president does not make political sense. Politics is addition, and a Duterte-Duterte ticket will not add anything substantially.

One runningmate that is being talked about is Bongbong Marcos, who is desperately seeking to resurrect the Marcos name. The only question is whether he will accept a number two position. If there was a unified opposition ticket, he might accept running as vice president. However, if the Marcos family see half a dozen candidates running for the presidency, the family might just be tempted to ask – why not another Marcos for the presidency?

The Duterte machinery may feel that they can win without any major alliance. They may rely on their hold on local politicians to deliver the votes for them. In every election I have observed in the last three decades, local politicians will concentrate on their own election or the election of their local candidates and pay minimal attention to the national candidates.

The Leni Robredo candidacy is based on the premise that she is the antithesis of the Duterte  presidency. In this way she is being projected as the ideal opposition candidate. She will have two major challenges. The first is that she must be able to project that she is the only opposition candidate who has a chance of winning against the administration. Second, she must be able to run an effective campaign with limited funds.

In terms of unifying the opposition, she cannot rely on the convenor group alone.  I remember that there was also a convenor group formed when Marcos called a snap election in 1986. After meeting with the group, Cory Aquino later met with the opposition political parties at the Valle Verde Country Club. She rallied the PDP-LABAN party to support her. Later when she agreed to a unified ticket with Salvador Laurel, she agreed to run under the banner of UNIDO, Laurel’s party. However, she had already mobilized the PDP-LABAN and other opposition groups to support her candidacy.

The reason a political party is so essential is that there must be other national and local candidates running that can carry the national candidate in their local campaigns and ticket. The only presidential candidate I can remember who won without much of a local political infrastructure was Joseph “Erap” Estrada. However, this same absence of a political machinery made it easy for him to be deposed.

Leni Robredo, whether she likes it or not, must rebuild the Liberal Party. Then she must herself organize a group whose principal task is to unify the opposition. When Noynoy and Mar failed to unify the administration party, the result was a Duterte victory since he was the only one running in the opposition.

The other two presidential candidates that have surfaced are Manny Pacquiao and Ping Lacson. Does Pacquiao have a route to the presidency? Without a political machinery of his own, his hope is to be an Erap Estrada. This is a very difficult accomplishment. Even all his billions cannot substitute for time and resources it needs to build a political machinery. His one hope is to tie up with a runningmate who can provide him the necessary resources – not in terms of money but a nationwide infrastructure network that can be converted into a political network. Recent events seem to have shown that he does not have the support of the PDP-Laban party. He will have to organize his political machinery from scratch.

A very interesting duo is the Ping Lacson-Tito Sotto team-up. I had heard of a Lacson presidential run since he has not kept this a secret. I was a little surprised at the Tito Sotto announcement that he would be willing to run as the vice president of Lacson. As Senate president I had assumed he was a supporter of the administration.

With Sotto in Lacson’s camp, there are now other interesting questions. Will his partymates, like Grace Poe, also now support Lacson? A group of prominent retired generals called the ADVOCATES has recently issued a manifesto condemning the government’s action (or inaction) in the West Philippine Sea. Is it true that this group is ready to back up Lacson in his presidential bid?

The scenarios for the 2022 presidential elections are beginning to take shape. However, the next few months can still see some surprises and sudden twists.

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Young Writers’ Hangouts on June 5 with Rhandee Garlitos and June 19 with May Tobias Papa, 2-3 p.m.

Contact [email protected]. 0945.2273216

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